Hometown: Broken Arrow, OK
Occupation: Restaurant Hostess
Tyra told Kahlen on more than one occasion that she almost had the total package. Her photos were striking, she had a great sense of humour, and a perfect body for high fashion and runway modeling. The only thing Kahlen seemed to lack was self-confidence. That didn’t stop her from getting to the final two this cycle, and it seemed the judges were faced with a difficult decision in choosing the winner. Although Naima ultimately won the title, fortunately this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kahlen.
Hi Kahlen, congrats!
During the initial interviews on the show, you said that you hadn’t watched Top Model on television. What was your motivation for trying out?
I was working in New York and the casting people, including Tyra, showed up near where I was working. The recruiters asked me to come by and audition so I decided to go for it. Modeling is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I thought this would be a great opportunity.
You were told over and over again that you lacked confidence in yourself. Has watching how well you did on the show helped to boost your self-esteem?
Absolutely. It really helped seeing what a good job I actually did on the show. While I was there I kept thinking to myself, “Well, I made it this far so obviously I don’t suck.” It took a long time though to actually believe in myself and realize that I can do this, I’m good at this. I’m very confident in my photos and my performance on the runway.
In the final episode, you said that there were people back home who didn’t think you could do this. What would you like to say to them now?
I would really like to thank them. I love to prove people wrong, and they made me push myself to do that. No one is going to believe in you until you believe in yourself; that’s one of the things I learned through this whole experience. And I do believe in myself. On the show, I would work harder just so I could prove those who doubted me wrong.
What would your dream modeling job be?
Runway for sure. I would love to do runway work for Alexander McQueen. He’s a genius and has such a wonderful vision. His clothes are great, his models are fantastic, I just love him. He’s so different from anything else you see out there.
After finding out your friend had passed away, you had to do a photo shoot in an open grave at a cemetery. Obviously that was extremely difficult for you, but the resulting photo was one of the best we’ve ever seen from ANTM. How do you feel when you look at that photo today?
Proud. It was a hard thing to do for sure, but it was also a personal test for me. I really had to overcome my feelings and just do it. It was a test to see if I wanted it badly enough, and I did. I wasn’t about to give up. I just pushed through it. I was detached from the situation, but at the same time I used my emotions and gave that photo all I had.
The girls who have finished in second place on America’s Next Top Model have so far done very well for themselves with modeling careers. Have you had any offers yet, and will you continue to pursue modeling?
I haven’t had any offers yet since the show literally just ended, but I’m going to make a go of it. I’m planning to move to New York next week and look for an agent. I made a lot of good contacts through the show, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and working.
What advice would you give to other aspiring models who are trying out for cycle 5?
When I first went in there I was so worried – I thought I had to be loud and attention grabbing just to get noticed. Fortunately I was wrong. You have to be real, and be yourself. If you’re fake and phony, they will notice and you won’t last long. They’ll see right through you.
Even when you were feeling uncomfortable about situations you were in, it seemed like your sense of humour pulled you through. Do you think the editors portrayed you as too serious and self-conscious?
When I was watching the show, I kept saying “Wow, did I really cry that much?” When stuff gets hard, I either cry or laugh it off. Apparently they caught me crying more than laughing or something. Really though, I try to laugh more. Nothing can be taken too seriously, or you just don’t have any fun. You have to be able to poke fun at yourself and roll with it.
I do think I was portrayed very well though. There is nothing else I would have added or not shown. That was me.
If you could put the four judges and Miss J through one of your photo shoots, which one would you choose and why?
Oh that’s easy. The wet and wild shoot! Remember that one? We had everything working against us; the winds were strong enough to blow the cars over, and you couldn’t tell but I think they transported that water in from Antarctica! It was freezing cold, and it was just such a shock to be standing there and all of a sudden you’re being pelted by icy cold water and hurricane winds.
I’d love to see them do that one!
Kahlen, thanks so much for your time! You were my favourite going in to the show, and it’s great to see how far you went. Best of luck to you for the future!
Oh, thank you so much!